Category Archives: teaching and learning

Federated Wiki-prise: Boldly Going Where Just a Few Have Gone Before

To Boldly Go…

Yes, we Federated Wiki folks are at it again.

I’ve written about Mike Caulfield and Ward Cunningham efforts with the Wiki of the future, and now Mike is at it again.

The Federated Wiki is this wonderful hard-to-explain place where you can think and write and sythensize the thoughts and writings of others as well. As Mike has said, “It’s hard to learn and easy to use” (or something like that).  I have described it like learning to ride a bike. At first, riding a bicycle seems terribly complicated with all the balancing, peddling, steering, and keeping your eye on the road all at the same time, and then all of a sudden





and then it is wonderfully easy. And freeing.  And you can go anywhere you want with little effort.

That’s the Federated Wiki. (Fedwiki, for short).

But we in academia are an inpatient lot (and, too often, rather busy).  We want to be able to ride that bike after the first try. And if we can’t, we move on to simpler, more intuitive rides. So Mike is working on a way to make the Fedwiki a bit easier to ride by helping the Fedwiki collaborate technologically with a platform with which academia is a bit more familiar — WordPress. There’s a bunch of technical coding magic that must happen first, but in the mean time, he’s put a call out for WordPress pages to be written in a Fedwiki format to give him a sandbox of sorts to play with – a proof of concept, if you will.

I meekly signed on (hiding out in the comments section of Mike’s post).

Comment screenshot saying I'd participate

Alyson Indrunas threw down a prolific challenge, and the old CogDog himself answered the call as well. I’m sure more will be along. It will be interesting to see what develops in this experiment as we answer Mike’s call to:

Write for reuse in this space. What you post should be easy for others to reuse on their site with modifications. So no posts trying to prove a personal point or narratives that wouldn’t make sense out of someone else’s mouth. You are contributing words to your wiki that someone else can use with minimal modification.

So my Federated Library Project (FLiP) posts will explore strange new topics, seek out new writers to read, and write new posts like a Culture of Caring and the Shadow IT.

I can’t wait to see where the Wiki-prise goes next.

vulcan salute

By David Fuchs (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Utopia College and the Binary


After noticing the use of the binary argument at so many recent conferences and chatting about it with Mike Caulfied and Alyson Indrunas, I actually then dared, half in jest, to throw out the word “utopia” at NWeLearn’s ending panel discussion. I was only using it half in jest…so I think it is important to clarify how that word is being used, so as to not paint everyone with the same rainbow-and-unicorn-utopian colored brush.

There are those who judge the ideas being offered  by others as utopian. Mike Caulfield describes this experience at #dLrn15 in his recent blog post:

“I think it’s utopian,” they said, “You’re not going to eliminate all online nastiness with a different software format.”

I looked over my presentation to try to find the spot where we reached the Age of Aquarius via some Node server installs. I saw a lot of places where I said we could be doing much better, but couldn’t find the places where we cured all ills.”

Then there are those, like me in my flippant utopian comment during the panel session, trying to make a distinction about the places (physical and mindset) from which some of those ideas are being generated as utopian or, perhaps, elitest (choose your adjective).

When the term higher education gets defined by the likes of a Harvard, MIT, or Stanford, it rarely, if ever, resembles the higher education with which I am familiar and go to work in every day at a rural open door community college in eastern Washington State. The perch from where the monied (and even not-so-monied) four-year, selective entrance schools view issues in higher ed (from the plight of the adjunct to available technology to the abilities of the students in the classrooms) is covered in assumptions that my students are just like theirs, that they enter college being able to read and write at a collegiate level, that they have devices to bring to campus for BYOD initiatives, that they have time to spare between their jobs and their families to attend full time, and the list goes on.

It’s great that we have the likes of Mike Caulfield or Jesse Stommel, who deliver aspirational ideas to address some of the ills of higher ed, and push the boundaries “so far out of the mainstream of practice you have to squint to see them.”  Their ideas, however, start from the mainstream. The Everycollege. And then ask us to push our own boundaries. There isn’t an assumption of privilege to the Federated Wiki or of the Ivy League to rethink a gradebook.

The community college is ground zero of higher education. The canary in the higher education coal mine. No matter the metaphor, until the definition of higher education expands to be inclusive all of us when looking for solutions, the utopia term may still be needed.  Not for those including us in their boundary-pushing discussions like Jesse and Mike, but for those who teach in Utopia College and don’t even realize community colleges are a part of the conversation.


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Shrink It & Pink It: Lady Leadership

This needs to be reblogged 1,000 times. Three cheers, my friend. Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

Spoke & Hub

When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid. ~Audrey Lorde

Dear Readers,

I am going to return to recent events in a few days, but I need to finish this post first. Nothing is sweeter is to my ears than the Baltimore accent calling me “Hon”–male or female. You should read about the Bali Nine. Thank you in advance for reading my thoughts when there are far greater things to think about today.

Up until recently, I thought my husband had taught me the marketing phrase “shrink it and pink it.” When I mentioned it to him, he said, “No, I learned that from you. Remember when you got kind of pissy at a bike shop when everything was pink and pretty? Don’t you remember going off about the ways they shrink and…

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Free Range Learning in #rhizo15

Urban Dictionary

I’m coining a phrase today folks…get out your urban dictionaries.


In reference to students being able to have to choice to pursue their subjectives, not our objectives, in regards to their eduction (e.g. Ron Samul‘s awesome un-assignment he posted about)…I give you:


Organic learning, free of added fillers and pesticides (so sicced!), humane (human even), with learners who are able to wander where they desire, exploring what interests them, what they hunger for.

(Yes, I could pretty much go on overdrive with the metaphor).

Where’s @dogtrax when I need him to create a logo?


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“Look What I did!” Success Counted in #Rhizo15

I’m participating in Dave Cormier’s #Rhizo15 cMooc. Though this week I’ve been more lurker than participant due to obligations of the jobby job (and my love of a good paycheck), Dave’s latest challenge lured me in enough to pull together this response.

For Week 2, Dave laid down the challenge of how to measure success if we throw out the traditional “the student will be able to…” objective indicators for something more subjective to the individual.

In the #Rhizo15 Facebook group last week, I’d posted this quick thought:

Objectives: What you want me to learn
Subjectives: What I want me to learn

Outcomes: The measureable result of a learning activity
In-comes: The internal benefit of a learning activity

It was a fun play on words, yet had deep resonance with the group, and that led to a pretty healthy discussion of 75 or so comments all related to figuring out how we know if learners are successful, both for their own metacognition of success, but also for the instituional measurement of it.

It’s such an easy problem, if we take the academy out of the equation.

It starts from our earliest steps to our fumbling progress at drawing with crayons or tying our shoes or riding a bike or helping with big people tasks. You proudly exclaim to whoever is nearby, “Look what I did!” Instant. Acknowledged. Success.

Little girl washing a big truck


It’s a much harder question to answer when institutions get involved. Somehow something has to be quantified and qualified to separate those who are progressing from those who are not. To award the institution’s acknowledgment of success. To make the institution’s piece of paper worth something.

If, as Dave asked, we imagine a world where the learning objective is not used and we have to count a different way, how would we do it?

Here are some options that could be counted:

  • Student as Networked Learner – This would certainly mappable – but then Kim Kardashian and Justin Beiber have ridiculously large connected networks, yet I wouldn’t want to award them a PhD anytime soon.
  • Student as Completer – In the land of competency-based education, the grades aren’t important – the mastery is. The question still remains as to who determines how many modules/units must be completed to equal success?
  • Student as Currator of their Own Learning – This is perhaps my favorite – think ePortfolios, Domain of One’s Own, LearningLocker, and the like – where the student currates the story of his/her own learning. It’s perhaps the closest digital version to “Look what I did!”

What other ways might we count if we remove the learning objective? Join the #rhizo15 conversation here or on Twitter.


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In Defense of *gasp* Facebook

Now stop. Stop right there. I know what you’re going to say.

“Facebook? Really? Corporate-sellout-advertisement-blitzing-privacy-invading-newsfeed-tweaking-Facebook? You’re defending it?????”

Oh. The horror.

Bombs blowing up new york

Okay, so not end of the world, maybe?

Here’s the deal. I have no great love or hate for Facebook.  It is what it is. A free, stable social media site that is available on every platform, with a complicated set of privacy settings it keeps trying to simplify.

Buyer beware.

As my friend Jane Bozarth says, “If you don’t like it, ask for your money back.”

For those who didn’t (or haven’t yet) raised college age kids in the mid 2000’s forward, you’re forgiven for not understanding. But when the darlin’s leave for school and they stop calling (or answering your calls) because they are too busy, sometimes the only way to keep in touch or have a conversation with them is to exchange a text or read a post on Facebook.

When my son’s college degree was interrupted by a deployment to Iraq in 2007, Facebook kept me reassured of his relative safety, and that he was finding a way to use humor to cope with the stresses of war (which helped me cope with the stresses of being a soldier’s mom).

soldier in front of broken truck with sign that reads I can fix it

And last summer, when I went to my 30th high school reunion, I spent the weekend with contemporary friends rather than strangers who I once knew 30 years ago.  The experience was so much richer because we had current shared experiences as well as past ones – even though the current ones had been virtual.  (And where a funny image from 1984 – top photo –  could then become the running joke and gold standard by 2014 – bottom photo).

Everyone turned facing backward in bottom photo

What does all of this have to do with this blog’s blatherings about teaching, learning, and higher ed?


When I participate in awesome open learning experiences like Mike Caulfield‘s  Fedwiki Happening or stumble into the new-to-me world of Rhizomatic learning that is Dave Cormier‘s  #Rhizo15, I do so because I have interest not-so-much in the openness of the learning, but in the connectedness of the learning experience (and it’s rather difficult to have the one without the other).

 I am challenged by the research being done and shared by the big R1 schools, and “the University Of’s” , and the Ivy Leaguers, and the international schools through these open learning opportunities. The Big Schools have big staffs and big budgets to implement big thoughts.  I enjoy the experience of connecting with these big thinkers, the creative thinkers, and the outlandish thinkers all.

I, however, work in a small community college in a forgotten part of the southeast corner of Washington State.  We don’t do research. And we aren’t selective. Every 10 weeks, we educate anyone who walks through the door, which means we offer a lot of developmental math and English, ESL, ABE, I-BEST, and the rest of the alphabet soup of programs meant to take people from where they are and get them to a decent paying job or on their way to a four year school.

So this is where I fork Amy Collier‘s Not-yetness and suggest that perhaps we need to make room for a bit of a continuum of emergence. The ideas of not-yetness at an MIT or Standford are so far beyond the realm of my little community college that they would intimidate or even shut down emerging technology discussion for all but a few of the most technologically-edgy of faculty at my school.

But Facebook, good ol’ Facebook, almost the grandpa of social media now, is a kind of “not-yetness” on my campus. (Not to mention it has a nearly flat-line learning curve which is important for a 10 week quarter). The idea of opening a class to social media of any kind is not-yetness here. The use of Facebook groups is not-yetness here. The connectedness of letting outsiders participate with students in a class via Facebook is very not-yetness here.

It’s learning.

It’s connecting.

It’s kind of messy.

And it’s definitely not-yetness. Here. On my end of the continuum.

Note: In Cormier’s opening post to #Rhizo15 he states, “FacebookI have so many mixed feelings about Facebook… but i do know that it totally works for some people. The course group for #rhizo15 is at

It’s okay, Dave. The posts are flying in the RhizoFbGroup. And so far, it’s the only place I’ve connected with #Rhizo15. It seems Rhizo’s not-yetness in Facebook is just about now.


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